Giant Bicycles Recon HL 1600 Light: Checkpoint

Giant Bicycles Recon HL 1600 Light: Checkpoint – by Guitar Ted

The days continue to get shorter here in the Northern Hemisphere, but have no fear! The Giant Recon HL 1600 light can brighten up any ride during the times when the Sun has left you in the dark. We took a quick look at the specs and features of this light in our previous post on the light here. Check that link out for those details. In this post I will give you an idea of what you can expect from this light and how it is to use it.

Night scene using the HL 1800 Recon light
The light is pretty bright even set to medium, shown here.

Ride Performance: In use, the Recon HL 1600 has some good things going for it, some so-so things, and some not-so-good things as well. First, the “Good Things”:

  • The cantilevered mount is firm and doesn’t move even when riding on rough gravel or when hitting potholes. The mount stays put.
  • The beam pattern is really quite good. It has some height to it, which catches street signs and road signs well enough to read them from afar if you have the night eyes to read them. Spread is also very good. 1600 Lumens gets a bit dicey on white gravel, as reflections tend to wash out any ability to read the terrain, but the 800 and 300 Lumen settings are fine.

“So-So Things”:

  • The light is easy to remove and to set into the mount, but the light rattles in the mount which is annoying.
  • The “Smart Mode” which turns on a daytime flasher when the light of day gets strong enough seemed to work, but unless you are in a city environment, this seemed to be sort of a moot point.

“Not-So-Good Things”:

  • The menu is hard to remember while riding and you have to toggle through it serially to get back to a higher setting.
  • The Recon HL 1600 would not pair to my Lezyne GPS which is ANT/Bluetooth capable. Bummer. It appears that you’d have to have a Garmin, or Giant’s computer to access the features available via computer head display.
The Giant Recon HL 1600 mounted to a Noble Bikes C GX5 gravel bike
The light was steady, and the mount was super stable, but the light rattles over the gravel in its mount, which was annoying.
Light pattern shown at night.
At the 800 Lumen setting the light was borderline too bright.

Okay, so a mixed bag here and unfortunately some of the cooler features, like the Speed Beam Mode and ability to monitor your light mode setting, are only available via certain computer/GPS devices. That said, I thought the light beam color and pattern was excellent. I ended up running this on the medium/800 Lumen setting, which to be honest, was more than bright enough. In fact, I am planning on running this at the lowest 300 Lumen setting for my next long night ride. The thing is here that this will most likely be determined by what type and color your roads are. Here in Iowa we have a whiter rock in the area I normally test in, so that sort of rock can reflect and “wash out” a light at higher power settings. You lose the ability to see good lines and wash-boarding at those settings that just make everything look “bright”.

While the rattling thing was annoying, I was also running the light above the bar with a mount meant to position the light under the bar. Perhaps that makes a difference, but when you run it the position Giant advises, you cannot see the power/mode button, as it will be facing the road, and therefore you cannot monitor power level. This seems at odds with ease of use and purpose. The light does come with a “band clamp” style mount which I will try and report back on when I give my “At The Finish” final verdict.

So Far….. So, the really cool features are limited to those who have certain computer/GPS devices. The light mount meant to cantilever the light off the bars is a solid, stable one, but the Recon HL 1600 head rattles in it annoyingly. (I’ll try the other mount before I pass any further judgments here) The menu button is kind of frustrating, but it is a $126.00 light. Comparing to some similar output lights, you get more user friendly features for about $40.00 or so more, give or take. So, the Recon HL 1600 must be seen as a bit of a value oriented light. Bells and whistles are there for certain users, but this is really just a basic, powerful light in reality. Fortunately the beam pattern is excellent and run times should cover most rider’s needs at the medium and low settings, which honestly, are bright enough for the majority of gravel riding.

Giant Bicycles sent over the Recon HL 1600 light for test and review to Riding Gravel at no charge. We are not being paid nor bribed for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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9 thoughts on “Giant Bicycles Recon HL 1600 Light: Checkpoint

    1. @Andrew- No “owl eyes” here! I did say in the article that variations in roads will affect what you get for results. Southeast Minnesota gravel is quite different than it is where I am from. I’ve ridden several times up there. Nice area!

  1. These are all just variations on a basic bucket flashlight beam. Light tech has moved way beyond this. You might want to review the outbound road edition and trail edition lights for a look at modern automotive tech applied to bike lights. The difference is as they say, night and day.

    1. @Eric- Those are interesting, but a separate battery pack is so ten years ago. I cannot see going that direction when all-in-one units are out there at competitive prices with similar, or better features.

  2. Does Lezyne actually support the ANT+ Light protocol on any of their bike computers? I wasn’t aware of any other bike GPS manufacturer beside Garmin who did, (with the possible exception of those Bontrager Transmitr handlebar-mounted switches for their RT lights.)

    1. So apparently this uses some proprietary protocol that only works with their app and their latest bike computer? Is so, that should be the lede.

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